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Top 5 Myths and Misconceptions About HIV and AIDS

Dr. Ajay Kumar Pujala 90% (135 ratings)
FHM Fellowship In HIV Medicine, MD, MBBS
General Physician, Hyderabad  •  19 years experience
Top 5 Myths and Misconceptions About HIV and AIDS

For nearly 30 years, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) have been shrouded in myths and misconceptions. In some cases, these mistaken ideas have prompted the very behavior that cause more people to become HIV positive. Here are the top five myths about HIV, along with the facts to dispute them.

Myth No. 1: I can get HIV by being around people who are HIV-positive.

The evidence shows that HIV is non communicable and does not spread through touch, tears, sweat or saliva. You cannot catch HIV by:

  • Breathing the same air as someone who is HIV-positive
  • Touching a toilet seat or doorknob handle after an HIV-positive person
  • Drinking from a water fountain
  • Hugging, kissing, or shaking hands with someone who is HIV-positive
  • Sharing eating utensils with an HIV-positive person
  • Using exercise equipment at a gym

You can get it from infected blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or mother's milk.

Myth No. 2: I can get HIV from mosquitoes.

Because HIV is spread through blood, people have worried that biting or bloodsucking insects might spread HIV. Several studies, however, show no evidence to support this, even in areas with lots of mosquitoes and cases of HIV. When insects bite, they do not inject the blood of the person or animal they have last bitten. Also, HIV lives for only a short time inside an insect.

Myth No. 3: I'm HIV positive, my life is over.

In the early years of the disease epidemic, the death rate from AIDS was extremely high. But today, antiretroviral drugs allow HIV positive people and even those with AIDS to live much longer, normal and productive lives.

Myth No. 4: My partner and I are both HIV positive there's no reason for us to practice safer sex.

Practising safer sex, wearing condoms or using dental dams can protect you both from becoming exposed to other (potentially drug resistant) strains of HIV.

Myth No. 5: You can't get HIV from oral sex.

It's true that oral sex is less risky than some other types of sex. But you can get HIV by having oral sex with either a man or a woman who is HIV positive. Always use a latex barrier during oral sex. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a General Physician.

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